By ALAN SMASON
Phil Melancon has mounted a number of successful original shows in which he also celebrated the likes of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and George and Ira Gershwin. His prowess on the keyboards is legendary and he follows in true New Orleans fashion to other irreverent live performers like Billy Holiday and Sam Adams.
So who does Melancon decide to ape in the first of three upcoming cabaret performances at Monkey Hill Bar, 6100 Magazine Street, than Allan Sherman, the bald, overweight and self-deprecating Jewish comedian who scored big in the 1960s? Melancon’s show titled “Hello Muddahs – The Wacky World of Allan Sherman” will feature songs from a succession of hit comedy albums like “My Son, the Folksinger” “My Son, The Celebrity, ” “Allan in Wonderland,” “For Swinging Livers Only” “My Son, the Nut” and “My Son, the Comedian.”
“I’ve done 6o different composers or lyricists over the years,” explained Melancon. “It just came to Allan Sherman.”
Sherman was also a favorite of two of Melancon’s performing buddies – Alden Hagardorn and Lawrence Beron– both of whom urged Melancon to entertain the idea of producing an entire show on Sherman’s work.
“Of course everyone knows ‘Hello, Muddah; Hello Faddah,'” Melancon noted in speaking of Sherman’s biggest hit from 1964, also subtitled “A Letter from Camp.” Set to Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours,” the song relates a letter from an away-from-home camper and what appears to be the most depressing and dangerous summer camp experience for any youngster.
Sherman, who was a highly regarded writer and producer prior to his entry into show business as a performer, also wrote several successful children’s books, Melancon mentioned.
The trio plan to sing mostly solo songs, but several of Sherman’s ditties will feature backing vocals by the other vocalists.
In addition to Hagardorn and Beron, Melancon, who will play keyboards, will also be joined on stage by drummer Dave Thomas and bassist Dave Malackar.
Melancon regards Sherman’s parody writing and his contemporary, Harvard professor Tom Lehrer, as key influencers affecting local performers Adams and Holiday, especially with their long-running hit show on Bourbon Street, “Nobody Likes a Smart Ass.”
“This is where Sam (Adams) learned to write parodies,” said Melancon, “and Sam’s first partner was Harry Mayronne, Sr.” That also had an effect on Ricky Graham, Becky Allen and Harry, Jr., he suggested.
“This line moves from Allan Sherman and Tom Lehrer to Sam Adams to New Orleans cabaret – really thick with it – and then it moves to people like “Weird Al” Yankovic.’
“Hello Muddahs – The Wacky World of Allan Sherman” opens on Sunday, August 25 and continues on September 1 and 8 with shows at 7:00 p.m. It has a running time for the show of an hour and a half, not including a a 15-minute intermission. Monkey Hill Bar is located at 6100 Magazine Street.